It had been building all weekend – that sick feeling of guilt in my stomach about having to be gone on a business trip during a Bella week. My daughter alternates between spending a week with her dad, and then a week with us (in addition to seeing the other parent a couple of times during the off week as we only live a mile apart). I used to have a hard and fast rule about never traveling on my Bella weeks. I love being her mom, take my job as a mother very seriously, enjoy spending time with her, and time is very fleeting – she will be gone and out of the house before I know it. As a momtrepreneur who loves running a business, I created boundaries around work time and home time that were rarely, if ever, broken.
And then came the dip in the economy. As a consultant I only get paid when I’m working, and I’m constantly in a state of serial unemployment as a speaking event is over very quickly. In these uncertain times I feel like I need to take what comes, because you never know when your next booking is going to be. I’ve also hired a PR firm to help me land more press for speaking as well as Hit the Deck™ and it’s working, which also means I jump when television and other press opportunities present themselves. Even if they are on Bella weeks. I tell myself it’s only for a short time.
…And here comes the guilt and stress of not being physically present 100% of the time. I’m a speaker and expert on stress, but I’m not totally immune to stress. None of us are. (Though I’m thankful that I train as much as I do to have a high threshold for stress or I would have been in the looney bin a long time ago.) I want it all. I want to run a successful business that grows by leaps and bounds and makes a positive impact on as many people as possible. I love having a sense of accomplishment at the end of the day. But I also recognize the most important person for me to make a positive impact on is my daughter, and I can only do that by giving her my full and best energy. I know this overwhelming sense of guilt is mainly a female thing – the vast majority of men do not agonize about the balance of their careers and raising a family – wishing they were at home while they’re at work and then agonizing again about what they’re missing at work when they’re home.
I left this afternoon on the last Bella week of the summer before she starts her new school, as I have a television appearance to do in Phoenix tomorrow. She was fine, but for some reason (hmmm….maybe see above?) I was a bit of a wreck. This whole week is going to be crazy busy with work. I dropped her off at our friend/neighbor’s, and as I was talking to our friend/neighbor the tears suddenly made a break for it and started flowing. Mine, not Bella’s. She was jazzed to be at her friends’. I almost never cry and I’m almost always fine. Until I’m not.
I hit my threshold today, and it always surprises me when it happens. I have a tendency to forget I’m not invincible.
I have the desire for a high level of achievement both personally and professionally. This tendency of mine is a very sharp, double edged sword. In order to stay grounded, I’m constantly checking my stories – “I have to do this business trip so we can pay the mortgage this month.” Really? Or is this about breaking last year’s sales targets? Is it about feeding my ego? “I have to take this opportunity because it may never present itself again.” Really? It may or it may not. It’s hard to check our stories though, because we’re all delusional. We tell ourselves what we want to hear. We find examples and situations that support our hypotheses, and then these things become our reality. There are times when I think Bella will look back on her childhood and think I traveled too much. Or, she may learn about what is possible in life from a happy and fulfilled mother. It’s also plausible that she may not think much of anything about it – it’s just how we rolled. As long as I continue to stay aware of how we’re doing as a family, things will be just fine. It’s really all the self-imposed-torturous-mom-guilt I’ve got to work on.
I guess the secret’s out: my sculpted arms aren’t from doing Hit the Deck™ – they’re actually from beating myself up….